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Sean_A

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2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS New
« on: September 18, 2022, 08:08:26 PM »

The attractive new logo seems to be replacing the previous version.

Given the similar design styles, there has been long-standing questions about the influence of CB Macdonald and Raynor on the design team of William Langford & Theodore Moreau. It is known that as a Yale & Columbia student Langford (played on the Yale golf team) Langford at least saw courses such as NGLA and Piping Rock. Additionally, Moreau was trained as landscape engineer. Seth Raynor was a civil engineer, but the two disciplines overlap. The similarities continue when we consider that L&M and Raynor were not adverse to shifting land to achieve their goals. Perhaps it is best if the answer is never known, but it does seem outlandish to think that the two teams came up with very similar design styles completely independent of each other.

Langford & Moreau initiated their partnership in Chicago sometime around 1920 or 1921. Most of their 200ish designs are in the Midwest and unusually for premier architects, a large number are publicly accessible courses…often in small towns. Well, I visited a quintessential small town in the guise of Green Lake, Wisconsin and very attractive it is. At a depth of over 200 feet, Green Lake is the deepest natural inland lake in Wisconsin. The population is under 1000, but Green Lake is well known as a summer holiday destination…the town is not short of money. There is even an Opera House which showcases all sorts of events.

The venerable Lawsonia Links is a few minutes out of town. It is widely thought of as L&M’s best design and best-preserved work. Opened in 1930 as the Lawsonia Country Club, the course was part of the 1100-acre resort which emerged from the Lawson estate. The Lawsons developed the estate over a few decades. After the death of Victor Lawson, the estate was sold and developed into a resort. I believe the new owners developed the course that cost a staggering $250,000 to build.  Being part of a resort, the development had to sell housing lots to be successful. The depression ended all hopes of any success. After the failure of the resort the course was used by the government to house prisoners of war during WWII and a dairy pasture! The American Baptist Assembly eventually purchased the property and revived the course. Although, it must be said that unless one wanders over to the Conference Centre etc, the vibe at the golf course is decidedly not religious. However, I did take a look at the magnificent chapel railroad car. I am not a religious person, but the property is something else.

Scorecard of the Links course. I believe the circled holes add up to the 5400 yard course..very good idea.




This was the first stop on my Lake Michigan Tour. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was set straight on the opening hole. A hard dogleg right, the hole then heads uphill to a green daringly mashed up from the left. There is no hiding that this will be big scale golf built with little regard to the principles of naturalism…which is ok with me. That said, this is not a particularly good hole. The drive runs out of room and feels as though something has changed. Below is a look at the green from the 2nd tee. The drop-off on the right has to be at least 20 feet. This was my first game in several weeks and it was a bit of shock to see the green Wisconsin landscape compared to the parched links of the UK.


An odd hole, the blind tee shot on #2 plays over mounds with sand at their base. Once over the crest the hole opens up. However, the first thing I noticed was the handsome dairy barn. I also noted a large depression partially seen in the photo below. Did the fairway extend that far left?


The green is very good, but not a standout example for Lawsonia.


I like the third. It legs right and a bit uphill past some outbuildings. There is an L shaped bunker guarding the right which strikes me as away from the left-centre desired line of approach. This photo is from a spot not far from the bunker.


More uphill golf for the short 4th. For me the course is starting to hit its stride. One may ask if the small open fronts can be used for the ground game. With only one play I suspect it is quite a difficult shot to pull off much of the time even if one is in the correct position. Conditions were a bit a too lush to trust to lengthy ground shots, but with experience I think it is possible.


If one bails wide right there is a nasty pitch over a bunker waiting.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 16, 2023, 05:57:22 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Peter Flory

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - LAWSONIA LINKS 1-4
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2022, 01:02:43 AM »
Sean- the 1st hole was originally a par 5 with the tee somewhere near the lower level of the current putting green.  When the clubhouse was added, it was converted to a par 4.  That explains the awkwardness of it.  You can see a lost bunker before the corner off in the right fescue. 

Brett Meyer

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS 1-4
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2022, 01:56:54 PM »
This was the first stop on my Lake Michigan Tour. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was set straight on the opening hole. A hard dogleg right, the hole then heads uphill to a green daringly mashed up from the left. There is no hiding that this will be big scale golf built with little regard to the principles of naturalism…which is ok with me. That said, this is not a particularly good hole. The drive runs out of room and feels as though something has changed. Below is a look at the green from the 2nd tee. The drop-off on the right has to be at least 20 feet. This was my first game in several weeks and it was a bit of shock to the green Wisconsin landscape relative the parched links of the UK.




Sean, it's interesting to me that you didn't like the opening hole because I thought that it was one of the best opening holes that I've played. Although you can't see everything that's going on, you can tell well enough from the tee--and probably the scorecard--that the hole bends right. With the ground sloping left carrying weak drives off that way, I figured that a drive up the right would probably leave a better approach to the green.

It turns out that not only is that true, it's really true because of what you note about the green: that's it's built up on about a 20 ft. hill on the left side and slopes pretty good from back-left to front-right. So it's really important that you're always short and right of the pin, which is easy to do if you've left your drive up the right side because you're playing into the primary slope of the green and you'll have a shorter shot. All pins are relatively accessible from here. But the green is much less accessible from the left side of the fairway and it'd be quite a dangerous shot from the left rough to a left pin. Still, you could easily play safely to the front-right. The green may be severe on one side, but it's never too hard to play to the easy side so I think the whole thing balances out well.

It's interesting to hear that the hole used to be a par 5. I can see that; the fairway bunker would then protect the second shot landing area. But to me, the hole that it is now also works very well.

Eric_Terhorst

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS 1-4
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2022, 07:10:04 PM »
Sean,


I like the 1st hole of Lawsonia more than you do, as I really enjoy coming around the corner and seeing (even after repeated plays) that highly engineered green that immediately makes you realize you're on a special golf course. The second hole is a wonder, with its blind tee shot, huge cross bunkers, and downhill approach that can be managed in many different ways, depending on your tee shot.


 I like the 3rd hole less than you--as the third dogleg right, par 4 in a row, it suffers a bit in comparison to the other two, imo.  Agree the 4th gets your attention.  My experience is you can send a shot through the narrow opening, but it must be a precisely placed, low runner.




Dan Moore

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS 1-4
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2022, 01:51:15 PM »
Sean,  Come back next year and there must might be a restored bunker (about 185 yards from the tee like the original) on the right side of Hole 1 showing the way and providing added definition for the tee shot. As Peter noted this is the only altered hole at Lawsonia. All the greens are in their original location and all the other original tee boxes still exist. A few new back and forward tees have been added over the years.


Hole 2, yes the fairway originally extended all the way to the outside of that bunker on the far left and stayed wider on the left all the way to the left green side bunker.


Hole 3 in my view is an excellent example of an inside the dogleg bunker that can be challenged to get the best shot to the green but is death if you find it. Bail out left and you are left with a very long 2nd shot. An under appreciated hole with a green raised and angled just right to reward a well placed drive that skirt the bunker to use the sloping ground to move left to right and closer to the green. 


Hole 4 is not all that receptive to a ground approach, as Eric said it must be perfectly placed, but the large green allows ample room to land and stop a long running shot on the green.


Moreau was trained as a Landscape Architect. He was not to my knowledge a civil engineer.  I have yet to precisely pinpoint when Langford and Moreau joined forces but don't think they started their own firm until 1920 or 1921. They initially collaborated on projects when Moreau was working at American Park Builders when APB hired Langford as their golf architect (eg Wakonda, Gary CC now Innsbrook CC) , but Langford was still working independently in 1919.
"Is there any other game which produces in the human mind such enviable insanity."  Bernard Darwin

Sean_A

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS 1-4 New
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2022, 07:56:42 AM »
Brett

I don't dislike the opening hole; I don't think it is very good despite the green. I am happy to learn the hole was changed because it was the only one on the course which looked wrong to my eye and didn't play well.

Eric

The 3rd is the first hole which really opened my eyes. I like the green being not too far from the boundary and the tight space between sand.  I may be wrong, but the green seemed smaller than most on the course...good change of pace from the first two greens.

Dan

Thanks for the info. RE 4, I didn't mean bounce one into that green...the angle is very tough. I meant more in general.

LAWSONIA LINKS TOUR CONT

Lawsonia has a reputation for the engineered look, which is why I was suprised by the variety of the first four greens. This variety continues on the 5th, a short three-shotter. Played between large trees, there is a road to the right which can be troublesome if the rough is firm. That said, the fairway is fairly ample for a reachable par 5. Bold mounds conceal the bunker right and well short of the green. I may be wrong, but it seems as though the fairway has been narrowed on the left.
 

The green is receptive, but don't miss it.


We moved up a long way on the 6th because the member said the hole is fun from the forward tee...he was right. There is a pair of sandy eyes staring at the tee which must be carried if one wants to avoid taking on the gunge down the right. The reward is not terribly pleasant....the dreaded short iron downhill lie to an uphill green...and the green ingeniously runs away from play.




The green is two tier with lower section to the rear.


The celebrated boxcar hole (7th) looks intimidating, but the green is far larger than it seems from the tee. I suspect with a rear hole location loads of tee shots come up well short in three putt country. Jeepers, the cart path is something awful.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 21, 2022, 04:06:30 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Sean_A

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS 1-7 New
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2022, 02:11:46 PM »
LAWSONIA TOUR CONT

The 8th is a hole I really like. Longer hitters can go more directly to the base of the green if they can carry the right bunker. Otherwise, the safer play is out left, where it may not be possible to bounce a shot to the raised green. Below is the approach after a safe drive.


A par five, the 9th doesn't do much for me, although, I do like the drive which seems to cant to left despite the fairway doglegging right. The back nine is the same style of design as the front, but more open in nature; tons of trees were removed. The short 10th is a praised hole and for good reason. Playing over 200 yards and uphill with a false front, this hole will claim victims. This photo from the short tee shows the false front.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 16, 2023, 06:04:39 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Sean_A

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS 1-10
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2022, 08:46:57 AM »
LAWSONIA TOUR CONT

A reachable par 5, the 11th is fairly straight forward. With #s 18 & 13 squeezing in, one gets an impression of up and down golf, but this isn't really the case. In the more open back nine, it is readily apparent how built Lawsonia is. It would be great to have seen what existed prior to the shaping. I am sure there were cues in the land as to why greens were built on their sites, but for the life of me it does seem as though some greens were built as transition holes. The 12th suggests such a hole. It looks like #12 could have been built just about anywhere. The shaping doesn't hide the unnatural style; its as if the designer is celebrating abruptness. Regardless, this short hole is very good. The green has a runaway-section to the rear which could be troublesome when the course is firm.


In the middle of a par 3, 5, 3, 5, 3 run, the 13th is comfortably the best par 5 on the course. The big hitter has a massive advantage in coping with the excellent bunkering off the tee and huge dip in the fairway


I can't carry the dip in two, so the decision comes down to a shorter iron in hand for a blind approach or give up considerable yardage for a view of the green.


If blindness is chosen, there is a safe route out right.


One of my favourite views on the course; the 14th is in the background.


Perhaps my favourite hole, the very short 14th is a deceptive little devil. I watched my partner hit a flat shot which landed well short and bounded onto the green, turned right and then rolled over the green. I thought the shot was perfect. Suffice it to say I didn't try to bounce one on! However, I was still left with a treacherous downhill putt which looks uphill. This hole is a keeper, although the green does feel a bit different to the others. I wonder if it was altered at some point.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 15, 2022, 05:10:05 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Jason Topp

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS 1-14
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2022, 11:58:35 AM »
It is fun to see a beloved course with which I am familiar get the Arble treatment.  I would love to hear your impressions of the 12th which you skipped. 

Sean_A

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS 1-14 New
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2022, 10:00:46 AM »
It is fun to see a beloved course with which I am familiar get the Arble treatment.  I would love to hear your impressions of the 12th which you skipped.

Jason

I didn't skip the 12th?

LAWSONIA LINKS TOUR CONT

The vegetation around the 15th tee and up the right is a welcome departure from much of the inordinately wide-open back nine. Some years ago an untold number of trees were removed from the back nine. Everyone I spoke with said it is a great improvement and I am sure they are right. However, on a course the age of Lawsonia it would be lovely for there to be some large specimen trees.


This hole uses the boundary very well to create a slight dogleg.  I often see this done at links when a dune ridge is used for the tee and green with the fairway offset.


The 16th is somewhat similar to the 15th, but longer and using more aggressive diagonal bunker for added interest. An intriguing hole, the 17th plays between sentinel bunkers in the fairway and at the green. This is one of those holes which seems like could be built anywhere; used like a short hole would be as a connector hole.  The table top green is a tough target, but I did notice some golfers had mere flick wedges into the green. I guess this is the risk for moderate length downhill par 4s. 75 years ago this would have been a much more formidable hole. Its a shame because this is the only hole of this style on the course....I like it.


A long hole to finish, the 18th curiously doesn't finish near the house. This kind of finish is usually a let-down, even though the hole is ok. There is a large bunker well short and left of the green which does make one think on the second shot, but most shouldn't have much trouble earning a par.  Its not a terribly satisfying end to a good course.


Lawsonia Links is a memorable course for many reasons which include the unusual design, location, setting and relaxed atmosphere. However, I do admit to the course not completely clicking with me. While I like the greens, I do find the bunkering around them repetitive in that similar recovery shots are required on most holes. Some of that impression is also due to the construction of the greens. Entry points between bunkers with high green pads to the rear is a much used motiff.  That said, once on the greens most are highly entertaining and engaging. I particularly like 3, 6, 8, 13 & 14, though none of the holes are poor.  Beyond all this, I enjoyed my stay in Green Lake, its my kinda small town USA. I have seen enough that I want to replay Lawsonia; it comfortably makes my Happy 100. With the pull of so many new courses in Wisconsin and the beauty of the state there is little reason not to return. 1*  2022

I can recommend Green Lake Inn just outside of town. The rooms were recently redone to a decent standard.


Norton's is just down the road. Typical American fare, but in pleasant surroundings over-looking Green Lake.


Adam's Rib is alright for a beer. As you can imagine the bar scene is a bit light in Green Lake.


I found a beer I like very much...only sold in Wisconsin.


Other courses on the Lake Michigan Tour

Arcadia South
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,71374.0.html

Eagle Springs & Dunes Club
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,71344.0.html

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 16, 2023, 06:11:37 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Jason Topp

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2022, 02:26:29 PM »
You did not skip the 12th!


I like the course more than you do although I may have a soft spot for Langford courses.  Your review gives me an interesting perspective as a good review does.

Sean_A

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2022, 04:14:31 AM »
You did not skip the 12th!


I like the course more than you do although I may have a soft spot for Langford courses.  Your review gives me an interesting perspective as a good review does.

I like Lawsonia, just not sure it's my kinda course. I think very simiIar about Yeamans. At heart I think I am more of random features sort of person...leaning more toward the likes of Kington, Huntercombe, Walton Heath etc. Lawsonia reminds me a bit of Beau Desert. I would say both are in the same same quality bucket. The green styles are similar, but Beau is a more attractive course. This take is partly to due to Beau's compact site, a trait I favour. I need to go back to Lawsonia.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Mike Hendren

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2022, 02:00:07 PM »
Sean, as you know I so enjoy your take on golf architecture.  That said I feel like you gave Lawsonia short shrift. I agree that the opener is awkward but what follows thereafter are 17 rock solid holes the sum of which readily exceeds the parts. The total landscape, particularly on the back is sublime and the lay of the land and the abrupt shaping of Langford are somehow complimentary.  The holes are challenging but not punishing and the interiors of the greens are sneaky good.


I share your enthusiasm for Spotted Cow and hope you return to Lawsonia.  I just might fly up and join you.  I have it squarely in my 10 favorites- with Huntercombe among others.


Be well.
Two Corinthians walk into a bar ....

Peter Flory

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2022, 02:34:50 PM »
After forcing every golfer that I know to Lawsonia, I have come to realize that it isn't for everyone.  I don't want to say that it's polarizing because very few people hate it, but some just aren't fond of the style.  That is fair and I'm getting a feel now for those who I don't think will end up enjoying it. 

The 1st hole is the only one that was materially altered and I do think that it would be better if it could somehow revert to the original version.  I've probably played the course 100 times now and I've never hit over the cliff on the 1st green.  But if that were a reachable par 5, that cliff would come into play a lot and it's one of the most dramatic features on the course.  I think there's some improving that can still happen with some mow lines and the finalization of the bunker restorations, but otherwise, it's perfection in my eyes.  Just imagine if the Lake were fully exposed and visible throughout the back nine. 

Sean_A

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2022, 07:59:14 PM »
Sean, as you know I so enjoy your take on golf architecture.  That said I feel like you gave Lawsonia short shrift. I agree that the opener is awkward but what follows thereafter are 17 rock solid holes the sum of which readily exceeds the parts. The total landscape, particularly on the back is sublime and the lay of the land and the abrupt shaping of Langford are somehow complimentary.  The holes are challenging but not punishing and the interiors of the greens are sneaky good.


I share your enthusiasm for Spotted Cow and hope you return to Lawsonia.  I just might fly up and join you.  I have it squarely in my 10 favorites- with Huntercombe among others.

Be well.

Bogey

I agree, a lot of solid holes. Enough, given the cool area, to spend a night to play a game...that's 1*. At the moment I don't think Lawsonia is a rare 2*...good enough to plan a significant trip around this course. Granted, on my recent trip Lawsonia was going to struggle to shine given where we played.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

Niall C

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2022, 07:26:47 AM »
You did not skip the 12th!


I like the course more than you do although I may have a soft spot for Langford courses.  Your review gives me an interesting perspective as a good review does.

I like Lawsonia, just not sure it's my kinda course. I think very simiIar about Yeamans. At heart I think I am more of random features sort of person...leaning more toward the likes of Kington, Huntercombe, Walton Heath etc. Lawsonia reminds me a bit of Beau Desert. I would say both are in the same same quality bucket. The green styles are similar, but Beau is a more attractive course. This take is partly to due to Beau's compact site, a trait I favour. I need to go back to Lawsonia.

Ciao


I can't say Beau Desert sprang to mind as I enjoyed your tour of Lawsonia.


Niall

Sean_A

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Re: 2022 Lake Michigan Tour - 1 LAWSONIA LINKS
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2022, 11:11:44 AM »
You did not skip the 12th!


I like the course more than you do although I may have a soft spot for Langford courses.  Your review gives me an interesting perspective as a good review does.

I like Lawsonia, just not sure it's my kinda course. I think very simiIar about Yeamans. At heart I think I am more of random features sort of person...leaning more toward the likes of Kington, Huntercombe, Walton Heath etc. Lawsonia reminds me a bit of Beau Desert. I would say both are in the same same quality bucket. The green styles are similar, but Beau is a more attractive course. This take is partly to due to Beau's compact site, a trait I favour. I need to go back to Lawsonia.

Ciao

I can't say Beau Desert sprang to mind as I enjoyed your tour of Lawsonia.

Niall

The construction of the greens is fairly similar. Although, I think Beau's are more interesting.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Cardigan, St David's City, Panmure, Kinghorn, Harrogate, Hinckley, Robin Hood, Sandiway & Ladybank

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